This Football Manager Challenge began as a YouTube save that, frankly, I didn’t have the time or dedication to continue recording. It came about in light of a BBC article that questioned how you could save improve the world’s worst national team, but didn’t answer the question.
However, I was keen to see how the concept played out in charge of the world’s worst national team, so we’ll continue it in blog format!
Improving San Marino
To summarise the story so far, I used the FM Editor tool to give San Marino a stronger infrastructure and youth improvement. I also created a new academy – Nomadic Striker’s San Marino Academia – to produce better Sammarinese players. The academy begins in Italy’s Serie C and has provided solid base of exciting young, new-gen players for new San Marino manager Andy Selva – based on the nation’s all-time record goalscorer – to work with.
Selva also has the luxury of a brand new player who’ll act as a figurehead for Sammarinese football: 15-year-old Davide San Marino. The youngster scored twice on his debut for San Marino in a Nations League game against Gibraltar, which saw the country win its first-ever competitive match 4-1.
Moving ahead, San Marino had to complete their Nations League campaign with Liechtenstein and Gibraltar to round out 2020. Selva honed tactic that enabled him to be defensively solid but also looked to attack these weaker oppositions, in addition to a couple more defensive-minded approaches.
Continuing in the Nations League
The second game of the Nations League campaign was away to Liechtenstein. San Marino started superbly with right-winger Giacomo Ercolani heading home a cross from left-back Denis Mazza. That man Davide San Marino doubled the lead with a flying volley after 33 minutes, teed up left-winger Paolo Selva to fire home a screamer, then scored his second just before the break for a 4-0 half-time lead! Selva pinged another screamer to make it five and seal a record 5-0 win for San Marino.
That win saw San Marino climb three places to the heady heights of 206th in the FIFA World Rankings, with only British Virgin Islands, Sri Lanka, US Virgin Islands, Pakistan and Anguilla below them in the official rankings.
The Nations League games sandwiched a much tougher test in a friendly away to Russia. Selva tested out one of his more defensive tactics. Russia got a dodgy penalty then scored another inside 20 minutes but Ercolani quickly got one back then Davide San Marino went clean through and chipped the keeper to equalise! The absolute epitome of a smash and grab saw them hold on for an impresisve 2-2 draw despite Russia having 36 shots to their three!
Nations League conclusion
That promising result was quickly followed by the final two Nations League games at the end of November 2020. First up was Liechtenstein at home, in which San Marino dominated the first half but couldn’t finish their chances. They continued to boss the game after the break and Davide San Marino eventually tapped home a Serra cross after an hour. He doubled his tally after a lovely throughball by midfielder Andrea Benedettini to seal a 2-0 win that won the Nations League group.
San Marino were Promoted from Nations League Division D Group 2!
The group was concluded with a trip to Gibraltar. Holding midfielder Alberto Casali gave San Marino a great start with a delicious free-kick but Gibraltar turned things around with a brace by dangerman Lee Casciaro. Casali’s set-piece talents then laid on an equaliser for centre-back Marco Zanotti on the verge of half-time. A classic game unfurled as left-winger Filippo Berardi put San Marino ahead then teed up Davide San Marino to equal Serra’s all-time San Marino goalscoring record! Gibraltar pulled one back but San Marino held on for a 4-3 win.
That ensured San Marino finished top of Division D Group 2 with 12 points out of 12, 15 goals scored and only four conceded. Davide San Marino is also the top scorer in the Nations League with seven goals and the highest average rating of 8.30!
Join us next time as we move into 2021 to discover the next challenge facing Andy Selva as San Marino manager.